Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, review: The Bundle
The Bundle, Shop Front Theatre, Coventry, June 20 only.
This play, written and performed by Journeymen Theatre - Stourbridge-based Lynn and Dave Morris - was programmed by the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre and took place on National Refugee Day. The play tells the true story of Adilah as she seeks asylum in the UK for herself and her three young children. The play was exceptionally well acted and the intimate venue provided for an extremely atmospheric production. The two performers convincingly and impeccably played a variety of different parts. Lynn managed to overcome throat difficulties to do justice to an excellent quick-fire script. We heard how Adilah, a trained lawyer, was removed from her Russian homeland by her Chechen father and forced into a marriage where she was subjected to severe domestic abuse and forced into servitude. At great personal risk she escaped to the UK where she faced the highly complex, bewildering and constantly changing immigration laws, all the while aware that if she was returned to Chechnya she would almost certainly be beaten to death. Despite the moving storyline the play managed to be extremely funny in parts - such as when the head of a primary school tries to explain to an inspector the difficulties in providing an education to children of refugees and asylum seekers. I found the play immensely moving and also felt some shame and anger at the "hostile environment" for refugee and asylum seekers which was established by a certain Home Secretary. Immigration has to be controlled but throughout our history we have welcomed people fleeing persecution, and most have contributed enormously to our economy and the general well-being of our society. There are strong humanitarian arguments that can be made against our government’s treatment of refugees but there are also economic ones. Surely anyone who has the courage and determination to travel thousands of miles to find a better life for themselves and their families possesses the sort of enterprising qualities we will need if we are to compete as a nation in the future?
There was no entry charge but a collection was taken for the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre's destitution fund.
Journeymen Theatre tour nationally and specialise in performing in non-theatre venues, including schools and prisons.
Contact them on 07791 210687 or at email@example.com
Barbara Goulden writes: This almost faultless play was jaw-dropping in its truth about the"hostile environment" introduced by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary.
The two actors had no need to make up a story...they simply picked one of the thousands of real-life ones known to refugee organisations in the UK.
I say the play was almost faultless because despite the unwanted marriage forced upon the young woman at the centre of the story, we didn't hear about the full scale of physical abuse inflicted on her and her children, until much later in the piece. A minor detail that could be corrected in one line.
I would have also liked more about the unbelieveable number of changes to the immigration laws made by our government, which the play referred to.
For all that, this was a revelatory evening. Every one of us left the Shop Front Theatre feeling ashamed, having discovered that the Greek island of Lesbos had offered more help to asylum seekers than our own Great, or rather not-so-great, Britain.